We need vitamin B12 for oxygen to be transported throughout the body. But our bodies do not create this nutrient so we get it primarily through our diet.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. However, it can also be found in products fortified with B12, such as some varieties of bread and plant-based milk.
Weakness and fatigue are common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Many of the symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency arise because it causes a lack of healthy blood cells. The body needs plenty of these cells to get oxygen around the body and keep the organs in good health. It is crucial for making DNA and red blood cells, and it helps support the nervous system.
You may also be more likely to develop vitamin B12 deficiency if you have:
- Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
- Pernicious anaemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
- Conditions that affect your small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
- Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus
You can also get vitamin B12 deficiency if you follow a vegan diet (meaning you don’t eat any animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) or you are a vegetarian who doesn’t eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs. In both of those cases, you can add fortified foods to your diet or take supplements to meet this need.
For a list of foods rich in vitamin B12 click here: